Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Unions do worker training better

President Hoffa lauded CDL program grads earlier this year at Fort Sill, Okla.
We've written extensively about the importance of unions in American life -- how unions provide a pathway to the middle class by paying $200 a week more than non-union jobs as well as offering good health care and other benefits.

One thing that is often overlooked, however, is how unions provide skilled workers to American companies. For decades, trained labor professionals have taken up important roles in many different sectors of society. The Teamsters, for example, have been at the forefront of providing qualified truckers to businesses so they can safety transport cargo along the highways of this nation.

But increasingly, the corporate class has taken the cheap way out. And they are paying the price for that, as a Washington Post story states:
Although it has historically constructed high-quality educational pipelines to well-paying jobs in cooperation with employers, labor has lost ground over the years. In the absence of union training programs, businesses in vast sectors of the economy are scrambling to meet their workforce needs through other means, like piecemeal job training programs and partnerships with community colleges, with few solutions that have really broad reach.
Some have attempted to go around the union model and form apprenticeships. But as the article states, in many cases that can "lead to a proliferation of low-quality programs." Imitators often can't provide the same skills that unions have.

The Teamsters haven't stopped trying to improve the skills of hardworking Americans. In fact, it is a integral part of our core mission. Earlier this year, the union announced it was teaming with the U.S. Army and ABF Freight to provide commercial driver's license (CDL) training to veterans transitioning to civilian life. It's just the latest effort of the Teamster Military Assistance Program.

In addressing the first graduating class of drivers at Fort Sill, Okla. in March, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said the union was providing a service that he hoped would be expanded:
The men and women who defend and protect our country deserve good, full-time jobs when they return home. I am proud that our union is working in this great partnership to honor our military veterans and help them transition to a rewarding civilian career.
If America wants to compete in an increasingly global economy, it needs to do more to succeed. Better worker training means better services and safety for all Americans. Labor unions like the Teamsters make it happen every day.

A college degree is not the answer for all workers. It should be the goal of lawmakers across the political spectrum to encourage youth not pursuing post-secondary academic studies to obtain training in a skill area that will provide them with the opportunity to earn a living wage and give them a career track that will ultimately give them a foothold in the middle class.

Increasing worker training, particularly through labor unions like the Teamsters, will ensure that will happen. That's good for workers and good for America.